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GRAMOPHONE 2021

BEST NEW CLASSICAL ALBUMS


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
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Image #2 DECEMBER 2021
Bartók Concerto for Orchestra. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta 
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / Susanna Mälkki 

"An incredibly atmospheric survey of Bartók orchestral music, rich in detail and drama." (Gramophone) 

On two highly praised albums, Susanna Mälkki and her players in the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra have released recordings of Béla Bartók’s three scores for the stage – The Miraculous Mandarin, The Wooden Prince and Bluebeard’s Castle, all written before 1918. The team now takes on two of his late orchestral masterpieces. Composed in 1936 for the Basel Chamber Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is one of the purest examples of Bartók’s mature style, with its synthesis of folk music, classicism and modernism. One immediately striking feature is the unusual instrumentation: two string orchestras seated on opposite sides of the stage, with percussion and keyboard instruments in the middle and towards the back. In 1940, during the Second World War, Bartók emigrated to the U.S.A., where he initially found it difficult to compose. In 1943 he received a prestigious commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, however, and in less than eight weeks he composed the Concerto for Orchestra. In it he worked with contrasts between different sections of the orchestra, and the soloistic treatment of these groupings was his reason for calling the work a concerto rather than a symphony.

kr 169
Image #5 DECEMBER 2021
‘Americascapes’ 
Basque National Orchestra / Robert Trevino 

"A fascinating and gloriously played programme of little-known American orchestral works, assembled and conducted with real care and passion by Robert Trevino." (Gramophone) 

All four American composers on this new album by the Basque National Orchestra and conductor Robert Trevino wrote music that was known, played and esteemed during their lifetimes, but none of them ever had a huge “hit” and so the pieces here are likely familiar only to musical scholars. Yet while it is uncommon enough to find Charles Martin Loeffler, Henry Cowell, Carl Ruggles and Howard Hanson sharing the same album, the conductor Robert Trevino has taken his exploration still further, into the recesses of their repertory – complete with a Hanson piece, Before the Dawn, that has had to wait a century for this, its premiere recording. Robert Trevino’s debut album with the Basque National Orchestra on Ondine featured orchestral works by Maurice Ravel and has received excellent reviews in music media around the world, including the Limelight magazine's 'Recording of the Month'.

kr 169
Image #6 DECEMBER 2021
Mendelssohn String Quartets, Vol 2 
Doric Quartet 

"The second half of the Doric’s excellent Mendelssohn quartet cycle conveys throughout a powerful sense of reflection on the music, resulting in highly engaged and engaging performances." (Gramophone) 

Following an exceptional critical reception for their first volume of Mendelssohn Quartets, the Doric String quartet now complete the project with volume two. As with the previous volume, they juxtapose one of the early quartets (no.2) with two of the later compositions (nos. 3 and 4), composed a decade or so later. Composed in 1827, the Second Quartet pays homage to Beethoven’s outstanding contribution to the genre (he died in March of that year), but this is no simple pastiche. Mendelssohn’s individual voice is already clearly present in this confident work. The later quartets are perhaps less overtly revolutionary – Mendelssohn was now an established figure and now a recipient of Royal commissions - but nevertheless remain clear milestones in the development of the genre.

kr 169
Image #9 DECEMBER 2021
Josquin. Brumel ‘In memoria mea’ 
Cantus Modalis; Seconda Pratica / Rebecca Stewart 

"Rebecca Stewart ‘works her magic’, as our critic puts it, on a programme of early music that feels genuinely fresh and surprising in style. A beautiful album." (Gramophone) 

Dr. Rebecca Stewart together with the vocal ensemble Seconda Pract!ca explores the music of Josquin Desprez and his contemporaries Brumel and Willaert, commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death. The central piece of this recording is the famous Missa Mater patris by Josquin. Founded in 2012 by international musicians gathered in The Netherlands for their studies, Seconda Prat!ca has become one of the leading ensembles of the new generation of early music performers. The ensemble’s main goal is to bridge the gaps between performers and audience, revitalizing western musical heritage by bringing it back to a shared living experience. We achieve this through a continuous mixing of media, performance, research and musical excellence. Since 2013 Seconda Prat!ca has become part of the EEEmerging project, an initiative of the European Comission to support young developing ensemble specializing in Early Music.

kr 159
Image DVD/BLU RAY: DECEMBER 2021
Britten The Turn of the Screw 
Sols; Sinfonia of London / John Wilson 

"Britten’s dark tale told in a production from Wilton’s Music Hall, with music-making from a superb soloist line-up and the ever-impressive Sinfonia of London." (Gramophone) 

Henry James’s novella has become notorious as at once the most stylish and elusively ambiguous of all nineteenth-century ghost stories. In June 1932, the eighteen-year-old Benjamin Britten heard a radio adaptation of James’s story and noted in his diary that it was ‘wonderful, impressive but terribly eerie & scary’. He read the novella for himself in January the following year, telling his diary that he still found it ‘glorious & eerie’ and judging it to be an ‘incredible masterpiece’. His subsequent operatic setting is unequivocally a masterpiece, and here receives a first-class production made for television with an outstanding cast led by Robert Murray and Rhian Lois, accompanied by Sinfonia of London and conducted by John Wilson.

kr 169
Image #5 NOVEMBER 2021
Dvorák String Quintet No 3, ‘American’ Kurtág String Quartets 
Parker Quartet with Kim Kashkashian va 

"Whether in Kurtág’s intimate and exploratory music, or Dvorák’s expressive Quintet, this is striking chamber playing." (Gramophone)  

On their ECM New series debut, the Boston-based Parker Quartet, hailed by the Washington Post for “exceptional virtuosity and imaginative interpretation,” play music of György Kurtág and are joined by violist Kim Kashkashian, one of the quarter’s early mentors, to play Dvorák. In this powerful programme of contrasts, Dvorák’s outgoing String Quintet No. 3, composed in America in 1893, is framed by two of Kurtág’s concentrated, meticulously-shaped works – the Six Moments musicaux (2005) and the Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánszky (1988/89). Throughout, the Parker Quartet’s feeling for colour and texture is in evidence. The quartet’s insights into Kurtág’s soundworld have been developed through extensive work with the Hungarian composer. The album was recorded at Zürich’s Radio DRS Studio.

kr 189
Image #8 NOVEMBER 2021
‘Nostalgia’ 
Magdalena Kožená mez Yefim Bronfman pf 

"Mezzo Magdalena Kožená – astutely partnered by Yefim Bronfman – is in her element here, in a programme of songs that seem almost perfectly written for both her voice and her interpretative soul." (Gramophone) 

On her third PENTATONE album Nostalgia, Magdalena Kožená presents Bartók’s Village Scenes, Mussorgsky’s The Nursery and a selection of Brahms songs, together with acclaimed pianist Yefim Bronfman. Sung in Slovak, Russian and German, these songs on love, longing and innocence show three master composers transforming folk traditions into their unique musical styles. Kožená demonstrates her vocal mastery once more, and this recording with Bronfman is the result of a two-decades-spanning congenial artistic partnership. Nostalgia is star mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená’s third album as part of her exclusive collaboration with PENTATONE, after having presented the baroque cantatas recital album Il giardino dei sospiri and the songs in chamber-musical setting project Soirée in 2019. Yefim Bronfman, whose commanding technique, power and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike, makes his PENTATONE debut.

kr 159
Image #9 NOVEMBER 2021
Pärt Passio 
Sols; Helsinki Chamber Choir / Nils Schweckendiek 

"A deeply moving performance of Pärt’s Passio, one both meditatively spiritual and yet achingly human too, the singers and acoustic lending the recording an almost visual dimension." (Gramophone) 

Composed in 1982, Arvo Pärt’s Passio has retained its place as one of the foremost works of sacred music of the late 20th century. It has been called a minimalist masterpiece, and is a seminal work in the composer’s oeuvre – the culmination of his so-called tintinnabuli style, and the first in a line of large-scale choral works on religious themes. Passion settings have a long history, with polyphonic settings for choral performance beginning in the 15th century and continuing up until the high baroque and the monumental works by Johann Sebastian Bach. In his Passion, Pärt looks back to an older tradition, however – the medieval one of a single voice chanting the text. As a result, the narrative – chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel of St. John – becomes the basis for sustained spiritual contemplation rather than the drama of Bach’s Passions. Another important distinction from earlier Passion settings is Pärt’s treatment of the Evangelist, who narrates the story. Rather than a single voice, he employs a quartet: soprano, alto, tenor and bass, accompanied by an ensemble of four instruments. The only other instrument used in the work is the organ, again in contrast to the larger instrumental forces of the Bach Passions. This contemplative work is here performed by the Helsinki Chamber Choir under Nils Schweckendiek.

kr 169
Image #10 NOVEMBER 2021
‘Josquin’s Legacy’ 
The Gesualdo Six 

"An inventive programme exploring Josquin and his influence on his contemporaries – but most importantly, one exquisitely performed by this ever-impressive vocal ensemble." (Gramophone) 

Josquin’s sublime, brief tribute to the memory of Ockeghem—‘Nymphes des bois’—is the emotional core of a programme which explores Josquin’s own influence on some of the great names of his time.

kr 169
Image #2 AWARDS ISSUE 2021
R Strauss Eine Alpensinfonie 
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski 

"Another beautifully crafted Alpine Symphony from Vladimir Jurowski, this time not with the LPO but the highly responsive Berlin Radio Symphony." (Gramophone) 

Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester continue their PENTATONE journey through the heights of German late-Romantic repertoire with a recording of Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie. The Alpine Symphony was inspired by the composer’s experiences during a mountain trail, and is an audience favourite thanks to its picturesque, idyllic charm and powerfully evocative score. To Jurowski, the attraction of this piece lies not so much in the picturesque, but rather in Strauss’s Nietzschean embrace of living in the now and the transformative power of being in complete harmony with sublime nature. In that respect, this album shares a kinship not only with Jurowski’s previous recording of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (2017), but equally with his acclaimed interpretation of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (2020), in which he also recognizes a composer coming to terms with the mortality of man while celebrating the immortal nature of Life. Seen in this light, Strauss’s Alpine Symphony becomes much more than just an exquisitely scored postcard. The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin has a vast PENTATONE discography. Together with their chief conductor and artistic director Vladimir Jurowski, they have recorded Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (2020), symphonic works from Mahler and Strauss (2017), violin concertos by Britten and Hindemith together with Arabella Steinbacher (2017), and Schnittke’s Third Symphony (2015).

kr 189
Image #5 AWARDS ISSUE 2021
‘Ciaccona’ 
Ilya Gringolts vn 

"It takes both superb instinct and skill to gather such varied works, to draw out and convey the thematic links, and to shape it all into an entirely absorbing recital: Ilya Gringolts manages all this brilliantly." (Gramophone) 

Throughout his career, Ilya Gringolts has devoted himself to performing contemporary music as well as the great concert repertoire, while also developing a keen interest in historical performance practice. The focus of his latest recital disc is therefore quite logical: music of our own time and its inspiration: Johann Sebastian Bach. The album title is Ciaccona and besides Bach’s iconic composition, Gringolts plays a further two chaconnes – or three if one counts the Ciacconina which opens Heinz Holliger’s brief cycle, composed for Isabelle Faust in 2014. The Spanish composer Roberto Gerhard wrote his Chaconne using his own take on twelve-tone technique. In his introduction to the album, Gringolts describes its twelve movements as including ‘everything from chorale to ländler … probably the most Viennese music ever written by a Catalan.’ The album closes with Kontrapartita by the French composer Brice Pauset, ‘a kind of through-the-looking-glass Bach partita’ to quote Gringolts once again. Pauset composed his work in 2008 – seven movements, each written with a particular movement from Bach’s partitas for solo violin in mind. For this work (and the interwoven movements by Bach) Gringolts has chosen to use a violin with a baroque setup, finding that the instrument seemed to respond to the ‘historically informed avant-garde’ of the writing.

kr 169
Image #6 AWARDS ISSUE 2021
Grime. Ives. Mahler ‘Songs for New Life and Love’ 
Ruby Hughes sop Joseph Middleton pf 

"This is a deeply moving recital exploring parenthood – with an incredibly poignant new cycle by Helen Grime at its core – from Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton." (Gramophone) 

After appearing on a quartet of very different BIS releases, ranging from early baroque arias to orchestral songs by Alban Berg and Mahler’s ‘Resurrection Symphony’, the British soprano Ruby Hughes has devised a song recital, together with her regular Lieder partner Joseph Middleton. The process began in 2018 when the two gave the world première of Helen Grime’s Bright Travellers, a set of five poems charting the interior and exterior worlds of pregnancy and motherhood. Ruby Hughes soon set about planning a programme which would converge with Grime’s music and the themes of new life and of love in all its aspects. The recital is bookended by two song cycles by Gustav Mahler which explore love, grief, loss and reconciliation through quite different lenses. In the opening cycle we experience Mahler as solitary wayfarer and hear of unrequited love. In Kindertotenlieder, the second cycle, the poet Friedrich Rückert pours out his pain as a grieving father in songs about the beauty and innocence of children. Completing the programme is Charles Ives – described by Ruby Hughes as Mahler’s ‘musical kindred spirit’ – with a selection of love songs, prayers and lullabies.

kr 169
Image #7 AWARDS ISSUE 2021
Regnart Missa Christ ist erstanden 
Cinquecento 

"Cinquecento’s return to the music of 16th-century composer Jacob Regnart finds the ensemble – regular visitors to the Editor’s Choice page – on impeccable form. Another triumphant album." (Gramophone) 

Two substantial Mass settings, sounding here
as though Regnart might have written them
specifically for the glorious voices of Cinquecento:
this is a welcome contribution to the restoration of
an important but still under-appreciated figure.

kr 169
Image #9 AWARDS ISSUE 2021
Fux Dafne in lauro 
Sols; Zefiro / Alfredo Bernardini 

"A recording – of Fux’s Dafne in lauro – which beautifully captures all the spirit of the live performances it was taken from, led by the sure rhythmic command and dramatic vision of Alfredo Bernardini." (Gramophone) 

In 2018, the Styriarte Festival in Graz launched, in collaboration with Zefiro, a project to rediscover the operatic output of the Styrian composer Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741), Kapellmeister at the imperial court in Vienna for forty years, with the aim of restaging six of his nineteen operas, one per year. With a cast of Baroque vocal specialists, led by Monica Piccinini and Arianna Venditelli, this set of Dafne in lauro marks the beginning of a new series in which Arcana will release the recordings made in the course of the six-year cycle. First performed on 1 October 1714 to celebrate the birthday of the Emperor Charles VI, Dafne in lauro is distinguished by the numerous references to hunting in the overture and in Diana’s arias, and by the numerous dance movements typical of the French style, such as minuets, gigues and bourrées. The highlight is Daphne’s poignant aria accompanied by the viola da gamba, which, along with the chalumeau and the transverse flute, enriches the range of tone colors in the score.

kr 299
Image DVD: AWARDS ISSUE 2021
Korngold Die tote Stadt 
Sols; Bavarian State Opera / Kirill Petrenko 

"‘A glorious achievement’ is how Richard Bratby describes this updated staging of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt, a production of great depth and emotional intelligence." (Gramophone) 

The premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at the Bayerische Staatsoper in autumn 2019 was praised both by press and audiences. Marlis Petersen (Marie / Marietta) and Jonas Kaufmann (Paul) sang the main roles, with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester under Kirill Petrenko’s baton, in the intense staging by Simon Stone. After the opening night, Joshua Barone wrote in the New York Times: “[The] work’s comeback may have reached its peak at the Bavarian State Opera. It’s difficult to imagine a better case for Die tote Stadt than was made in Munich.” The boundary between dream and reality increasingly dissolves as Paul, mourning his dead wife Marie, meets the dancer Marietta. With her looks so similar to Marie’s, Marietta becomes the object of the projection of Paul’s erotic desires. His grief has the traits of a ritual: The carefully composed strands of his dead wife’s hair are guarded like a relic. Following a nerve-racking “vision“ with cathartic effect, Paul is finally reeled back to reality. He can leave the Belgian city of Bruges as the place of his death cult. The original title of the piece, “Triumph des Lebens“ (Triumph of Life), is symbolic of the main character’s personal development.

kr 359
Image BLU RAY: AWARDS ISSUE 2021
kr 359
Image REISSUE/ARCHIVE: AWARDS ISSUE 2021
Beethoven The Complete Piano Trios 
Suk Trio 

"This month’s Archive recommendation is an elegant journey by the acclaimed Suk Trio through Beethoven’s complete works for piano trio, reissued by Supraphon." (Gramophone) 

The 11 works Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) created for piano trio make up a group of pieces equally remarkable as his 16 string quartets. With over half of them written before 1800, prior to the composer’s turning 30, they clearly reveal his creative flights and struggles, first and foremost serving to attest to the grand formation of Beethoven’s compositional principles and the attainment of his apex. The present 4-album set features the Suk Trio, who soon after their establishment in 1951 gained international renown and recognition. The recordings of Beethoven’s piano trios for Japan’s Nippon Columbia, completed within a short timeframe, from June 1983 to April 1984, were made by the mature ensemble when it included the violinist Josef Suk, the cellist Josef Chuchro and the pianist Josef Hála, who in 1980 had replaced Jan Panenka. Their sound was predominated by the strings, primarily the violin of Suk, who defined the interpretation principles. The singularity of the trio and their recordings alike rests in infallible technique, sonic refinement, admirable interplay and profound musicality devoid of any showboating.

kr 399
Image #3 OCTOBER 2021
Ye Winter
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / José Serebrier, Gilbert Varga

Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye’s music is revealed in these superb performances to possess lyrical elegance, searching drama and depth of colour – well worth exploring.

‘As intriguing as it is beguiling’ was how the ‘east-meets-west soundworld’ of Xiaogang Ye was described in the BBC Music Magazine on the release of a previous disc of his orchestral works in 2016. On that occasion Ye’s music was championed by José Serebrier, who returns here, sharing the task with Gilbert Varga. Between them they conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and four international soloists in five works which highlight the beginning of Ye’s career as well as his more recent works. The Brilliance of Western Liang was written in 1983, during Ye’s time as a student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and is named after a fifth-century kingdom in northwest China. Five years later, Ye wrote his Op. 28, Winter for orchestra, shortly after the he had gone to stay in the U.S.A. A wintry theme returns in December Chrysanthemum (2006), composed in memory of Ye’s daughter Nini, who passed away as an infant. Two years later, Ye was given the prestigious task of writing a work for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics. His Starry Sky for piano, chorus and orchestra, was performed for a worldwide audience with Lang Lang at the piano. The most recent work on the disc is The Song of Sorrow and Gratification (2012), a cycle of four orchestral songs dedicated to the bass-baritone Shenyang who also performs them here. The work sets texts by Li Shutong (1880–1942), assembled from early poems reflecting the resentment, melancholy and helplessness experienced by a young man during a period of turmoil in the history of China.

kr 169
Image #7 OCTOBER 2021
‘… Le temps perdu …’
Imogen Cooper pf

A highly personal album from Imogen Cooper, of works the pianist played as a student or young artist, but not since, exploring the impact of memory and the passing of time on music.

Borrowing the title from Proust’s great novel, Imogen Cooper’s latest recital features a collection of pieces that she learnt as a teenager in Paris, or in her twenties working with Alfred Brendel in Vienna, but none of which she has performed on the concert platform, or really played at all in the intervening years. Cooper studied in Paris from 1961-67 with Jacques Février (who had known Ravel well), Yvonne Lefébure (who had known Alfred Cortot), and Germaine Mounier. She started to wonder about the messages from her teachers she would find on her scores, and about the nature of memory. She was also interested to see if the repertoire she has acquired since she learnt these pieces would change her view, or shed a new light. This highly personal recital is an exemplar of Imogen Cooper’s outstanding pianism and musicianship.

kr 169
Image #8 OCTOBER 2021
Schnittke Choir Concerto
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Kaspars Putninš

The profound spiritual depth of these settings by Pärt and Schnittke, caught here in superb performances from Estonia, is deeply moving. 

As Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt both adopted the Orthodox faith in the 1970s, Orthodox choral traditions became increasingly prominent in their work, but both composers also looked to the music of the Western church. Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns set three prayers, familiar in the West as Ave Maria, the Jesus Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, and evoke Orthodox chant. His Choir Concerto, on the other hand, draws on Russian choral music of the 19th century and the tradition of large-scale concert works based on Orthodox choral music. The texts by the medieval Armenian poet Gregory of Narek are informed by a humanistic individualism, with the poet directly expressing his emotions and often writing in the first person. In the case of Pärt, his detailed study of Orthodox chant caused him to develop his so-called ‘tintinnabuli’ system of composition as an extension of the harmonic practices of Orthodox choral music. He wrote his Seven Magnificat-Antiphons in 1988, applying the tintinnabuli technique to texts from the Catholic liturgy in the German language – a striking East-West hybrid. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Kaspars Putninš have combined sacred works by Schnittke and Pärt before, their previous release on BIS earning them a prestigious Gramophone Award in the Choral Music category.

kr 169
Image #9 OCTOBER 2021
Zacara da Teramo ‘Enigma Fortuna’
La Fonte Musica / Michele Pasotti lutes

A highly significant release for anyone interested in the history of early music, but even in purely performance terms this survey of Zacara da Teramo is a must-hear.

In this recording entitled Enigma Fortuna, the ensemble La Fonte Musica, directed by Michele Pasotti, aims to shed light on the mysterious and eccentric personality of Antonio Zacara da Teramo (1355-1416). A contemporary of Boccaccio, Donatello and Brunelleschi, this composer from the Abruzzi region could almost be likened to a sort of musical Hieronymus Bosch, for the texts he set to music conjure up a ‘topsy-turvy universe’ where the obscene, the imaginary and the grotesque go hand in hand. In his ballata Amor ne tossa he writes ‘Let him understand me who can, for I understand myself’, foreshadowing the proud egotism of the Romantic artists who were to come 400 years after him. With this four-album set presenting the world premiere of Zacara’s complete works, La Fonte Musica offers us an initial approach to understanding his music. And thereby, through the timeless character of art, to understanding a so-called ‘renascent’ era that seems as ‘topsy-turvy’ as our own.

kr 359
Image DVD: OCTOBER 2021
Verdi Simon Boccanegra
Sols; Zurich Opera / Fabio Luisi

Baritone Christian Gerhaher’s second appearance on this page this month, and only his second Verdi role, but one he powerfully embodies.

Intrigue, family tragedies, power struggles - these words aptly describe Verdi's opera "Simon Boccanegra". The composer himself once said "The piece is dark because it has to be, but it is gripping." And the opera, in which it is primarily the men who guide the story and in which there is only one female role, has been experiencing a renaissance at the world's great opera houses in recent years. In December 2020, Andreas Homoki's new production premiered at the Opernhaus Zürich. Christian Gerhaher made his celebrated role debut as "Simon Boccanegra" - due to the pandemic, only in front of 50 people in the hall and with the orchestra placed in the rehearsal room at Kreuzplatz, 1km away. But the opera was also broadcast live on TV, directed by Michael Beyer. The critics raved: "One experiences facial expressions and gestures almost up close, realizing only in the close-up how involved the protagonists are in the action down to every blink of an eye." (FAZ)

kr 359
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kr 449
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2021
‘Journey Through a Century’
Sueye Park vn

"An extraordinary album of solo repertoire, Sueye Park transcending the technical demands with performances of vivid character, drama, emotion and engagement – captured in superb sound too." (Gramophone) 

Exploring the repertoire for solo violin, the young Korean violinist Sueye Park has chosen works spanning exactly 100 hundred years – from Max Reger’s Prelude and Fugue from 1909 to Penderecki’s Capriccio, composed in 2008. Framing the 20th century, the program starts as a relay race of famous violinist-composers; Reger dedicating his piece to Kreisler, who dedicated his Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice to Ysaÿe, who wrote his Sonata No. 6 for the Spanish virtuoso Manuel Quiroga. In this series of names, that of Richard Strauss may come as a surprise, but his little-known Daphne-Etüde from 1945 is also dedicated to a violinist – his young grandson. The journey now turns eastwards with two solo sonatas, by Prokofiev and Weinberg, that were both composed in Moscow, albeit 20 years apart. These are followed by Isang Yun’s ‘Royal Theme’. The Korean-born composer uses the theme from Bach’s Musical Offering, but takes it on ‘a walk through the Asian tradition’ in the course of seven variations. In A Paganini, Alfred Schnittke revisits another colleague from the past – and one closely associated with the violin. Finally bringing us into the 21st century is Penderecki, whose early training as a violinist stood him in good stead when he composed his virtuosic Capriccio.

kr 169
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